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Liberty Set to Host Winthrop in Conference-Opening Series

March 16, 2016  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Liberty Set to Host Winthrop in Conference-Opening Series

Complete Game Notes

Liberty (11-13) caps an eight-game homestand this week, hosting Winthrop (10-16) in both teams' first Big South series, Friday and Saturday. The Lady Flames and Eagles contest a single game on Friday at 5 p.m., while Saturday's doubleheader starts at 2 p.m.

The Lady Flames went 3-2 at the Liberty Softball Classic, hitting .358 as a team while averaging 6.6 runs per game. Liberty also posted a 0.90 team ERA, holding opponents to a .174 batting average.

Lady Flames at a Glance
The Lady Flames tossed 24 strikeouts in two games on Saturday, as Julia DiMartino pitched a career-high 13 strikeouts against Sacred Heart and Chase Cassady struck out 11 batters in a 9-0 win over La Salle. Cassady was named the Big South Pitcher of the Week on Monday, after going 2-0 with a 0.49 ERA and 23 strikeouts last week. DiMartino's 2.46 ERA paces the team.

Mickey Loveridge has hit .533 with 10 runs scored and nine RBI in 10 games played. Rylee Reynolds bats .339, while Jaclyn Amader (.329) and Alexia Taylor (.321) are tied for the team lead with 13 RBI apiece. Tori Zavodny is tied for the national lead with five triples and has stolen 14 bases, while Sarah Robertson has scored a team-best 19 runs.

How to Follow the Lady Flames
Fans can follow all of Liberty's games this week through live stats. Friday's contest will air on Big South Network and ESPN3, with Alan York calling play-by-play and former Liberty head softball coach Paul Wetmore providing analysis. Saturday's games will air on radio on 90.9 FM The Light, with Kevin Keys serving as play-by-play announcer and former Virginia Tech standout Jess Lloyd providing analysis.

Quick Hits
- Liberty is 8-14 all-time in Big South openers heading into Friday's game.
- The Lady Flames batted .358, while also posting a 0.90 ERA at Liberty Softball Classic.
- Mickey Loveridge has hit safely in all 10 games she has played this season.
- Chase Cassady was named Big South Pitcher of the Week, Monday.
- Liberty Softball Stadium was voted second-best softball stadium by FloSoftball.com
- The Lady Flames need one more win for 750 in program history.
- Julia DiMartino struck out a career-high 13 batters against Sacred Heart, Saturday.
- Tori Zavodny is tied for first in the nation with five triples heading into the week.
- Nine Liberty freshmen have started at least one game this season.
- Liberty's current 12-member freshman class is the largest in program history.

Liberty vs. Winthrop (Winthrop leads, 36-29) Current Series Streak: Winthrop W4
Last Meeting: Winthrop 3, Liberty 0 (April 26, 2015 - Rock Hill, S.C.)
Last Liberty Win: Liberty 10, Winthrop 3 (April 18, 2014 - Lynchburg, Va.)

Winthrop (10-16) brings a four-game losing streak into its Wednesday game at No. 1/1 Florida. The Eagles have been in Florida all week, and competed in the UnderArmour Showcase at Clearwater. Paige Haley bats .355 to lead the team, followed by Megan Winningham, at .341. Leah Young hits .273 with seven homers and 20 RBI. 27th-year head coach Mark Cooke, the winningest softball coach in Big South history, earned his 800th career win against UNCW, March 9.

Winthrop leads the all-time series against Liberty, 36-29, winning four in a row, and eight out of the last nine meetings. Liberty picked up a key win over Winthrop on its way to the 2011 Big South Softball Championship title, as Tiffani Smith pitched a no-hitter to eliminate the Eagles in a 3-0 blanking, May 13, 2011. Each of Liberty's two Big South Championship titles, in 2002 and 2011, has been won at Winthrop's Terry Field, which is where the 2016 Big South Softball Championship will be held.

Liberty vs. Winthrop - 2015 Recap
Winthrop swept Liberty in a three-game series, April 24 and 26, 2015 at Terry Field.

In game one on April 24, Winthrop broke a 3-3 tie with three sixth-inning runs, winning 6-3. Liberty's Tori Zavodny and Jessica Cicerchia both stole two bases.

The Eagles scored seven runs in the fourth inning to take the nightcap, 11-7. Kelby Allen, Madi Clarke, Madison Kotchey and Kassidy McCoy had two hits each.

Winthrop won the series finale, as Sutton Watson and Sara Allen combined to toss a four-hit shutout.

Madison Kotchey batted .500 (5-for-10) in three games against the Eagles in 2015.

Opening Remarks
Liberty softball is 8-14 in conference openers since starting competition in the Big South in 1994. The Lady Flames downed Gardner-Webb, 3-1, March 14, 2015 in both teams' Big South-opening contest. That win marked Liberty's first conference-opening victory since April 4, 2008 against Birmingham-Southern, a team which left the Big South following the 2009 campaign.

Milestones on the Horizon
Liberty has won 598 games as an NCAA Division I program, starting in 1994. All-time in program history, the Lady Flames have posted 749 wins. The team needs two more wins for 600 in its Division I history, and one more win for 750 overall. The 500th win in the program's NCAA Division I history, also the 500th career coaching win for former head coach Paul Wetmore, came April 20, 2011 against Norfolk State.

Liberty-Winthrop Connections
Liberty sophomore Tori Zavodny will be playing against some familiar faces this week against Winthrop. Winthrop senior Dallas King, Winthrop freshman Keleigh Romine and Zavodny all went to Jay M. Robinson High School.    

Cassady Named Big South Pitcher of the Week
Chase Cassady was named Big South Pitcher of the Week on Monday. She went 2-0 with a 0.49 ERA, one shutout and a .143 opponents' batting average in 14 1/3 innings pitched. She averaged 11.23 strikeouts per seven innings. Cassady struck out 10 batters in a one-hit effort against Norfolk State, Thursday. On Saturday, she pitched her first career complete-game shutout, striking out a career-high 11 batters against La Salle.

Cassady leads the Big South with 68 strikeouts in 63 innings pitched entering the week.

Liberty Softball Classic Recap
Liberty went 3-2 at the Liberty Softball Classic, posting run-rule victories over Norfolk State and La Salle (twice). The Lady Flames fell in a pair of eight-inning game to Rhode Island and Sacred Heart. Liberty has won four games via run rule this season, doubling its total of two run-rule wins from 2015.

The Lady Flames hit .358 as a team while averaging 6.6 runs per game last weekend. Liberty also posted a 0.90 team ERA, holding opponents to a .174 batting average.

Welcome Back
Senior Mickey Loveridge has come back with a vengeance this year, hitting .533 with nine RBI and 10 runs scored in 10 games played. She has a 10-game hitting streak going, the longest by a Lady Flame since Megan Robinson's 14-game hitting streak in 2015.

2015 Big South All-Freshman team selection Madison Kotchey made her 2016 season debut on Saturday against La Salle, batting 2-for-2 with two RBI and two runs scored.

Triple the Fun
Tori Zavodny batted .500 with seven runs scored, seven stolen bases and two triples. She is tied for the national lead with five triples this season, and is ranked fifth in program history with eight career triples.

Zavodny leads the Lady Flames with 14 stolen bases this season, and is rated eighth all-time in program history with 38 career steals.